Text & Images by Phillip D. Johnson
Some designers like to change things up each season. In such situations, they are either very talented with an endless fount of genius and inspiration (like Karl Lagerfeld) or they are full out of ideas and they are just throwing pasta against the wall to see what sticks (let’s not name names here). And then there are those who has a certain aesthetic, a signature look, who never strays too far off course—not that they are stagnant, of course. They are always moving forward, always shoring up the base while tweaking under the hood. This is the number one reason I look forward to the NAUTICA MEN’S COLLECTION PRESENTATION each season during New York Fashion Week. The creative team at NAUTICA is never going to mess with the signature formula that has been so integral to their continued success but that doesn’t mean that the clothes in the collection are boring or less than stellar.
Founded in 1983, NAUTICA (by DAVID CHU) has evolved from a collection of men’s outerwear to a formidable global lifestyle brand with products ranging from men’s, women’s and children’s apparel and accessories to a complete home collection. Now part of VF CORPORATION, a leader in branded quality apparel, NAUTICA has become one of the most important—and most recognized—American lifestyle brands throughout the world, as well as one of the most consistently successful brands in the industry. Once again, this past September, CREATIVE DIRECTOR CHRIS COX and his team presented the SPRING/SUMMER 2013 COLLECTION on the rooftop of the EMPIRE HOTEL (across from LINCOLN CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS) with the bright blue skies and warm weather serving as the perfect setting to showcase what was very distinctly a spring/summer collection. The collection—one of the most cohesive in recent years—included thirty looks of men’s outerwear pieces, sportswear-inspired shirts and pants, shorts, swim trunks, blazers, dyed denim, and polo shirts in a color palette of primarily brilliant blues, tomato red, neon yellow and green.
That’s no surprise since the spring/summer 2013 collection was inspired by “the vibrant colors of the open sea”, with an underwater-themed (TWILIGHT BLUE SEALIFE, TWILIGHT BLUE SEA FLORAL and SEASIDE RED CRITTER PRINTED POLY SWIM TRUNKS) prints and patterns infused into swim shorts. As always, outside of the previously mentioned pieces, there are more than enough swim suit options here to satisfy every male customer that loves the brand, including some very cool and fashion-forward color-block board shorts. In fact, the big story of the collection is how Mr. Cox effectively used color-blocking, not just in shorts but in lightweight summer jackets, ties, shirts, a must-have TANGO RED/NAVY COLORBLOCK COTTON ZIP FROM SWEATER, and heavier outerwear pieces that can transition into early fall without skipping a beat.
Standout pieces in the collection includes the soft-shouldered black wool ripstop suit (it hits the sweet spot between formal and casual), the forever-classic blue linen/cotton chambray blazer (perfect for all those summer parties and semi-formal get-togethers come next summer), the understated season-less white leather toggle coat, the white/blue colorblock cotton shirt (paired with a must-have white cotton/nylon pants), and ALL the neon yellow pieces (including the belt and the tie!). You have to admit, there’s definitely something to be said about sticking to what you do best. It’s not often that I say this about a men’s collection seen during New York Fashion Week, but there’s not one piece among the thirty looks I would not kill to own myself. It was an outstanding collection of foundation pieces a man can buy, wear today, and haul out to wear five years from now and it will still be modern, clean and fresh. What more can you ask for? As a matter of fact and pride, the company generally produces clothes that are well made and last forever. I can attest to that, as I own many pieces that, to paraphrase the print ad from Timex, “takes a licking and keeps on ticking.” They are build ram-tough.
Of course, stylist MATTHEW EDELSTEIN knows that EVERYTHING matters when presenting a collection, so the clothes were appropriately accessorized with cool-looking Nautica-branded sunglasses, hats, watches, belts, boat shoes and sandals, which was an ideal finish to each look. Very covetable were the boats shoes, some which were very much on trend in terms of color (various shades of blues, reds, yellows and brilliantly bright white uppers) coupled with equally vivid colored soles. As a man who loves a good boat shoe—even if I don’t like being on a boat that much—I wanted to buy every one of them in all the color combinations to wear next spring. And I will probably end up buying a pair or two. Gotta have them.
Of course, we can’t forget the other reason—outside of the clothes—we all flock (well, most of us) to the NAUTICA presentation each season: The Parade of male flesh on display. The company made a wise decision when they gave up on doing runways shows to showcase their collections. Since they have started to have presentations, I (among others) have grown to greatly appreciate the collections even more. They cast the best male models (CHAD WHITE, JOSH WALD, MAXWEL ZAGAORSKY, LEANDRO LIMA, DANNY SCHWARTZ, BRITTAIN WARD, JEREMY SANTUCCI, BRIAN SHIMANSKY, BENJ LEE, CAIO CESAR, to name but a few) in the business and it becomes a must-attend event every fashion week. To finds this many good-looking men in one place, you would have to go to the Milan Men’s Fashion Week in July and January of each year (and/or PITTI UOMO in Florence) to see all these guys in one place.
So when this collection hits the stores in early January, run, don’t walk, to buy your favorite pieces. You won’t regret it. The collection will be available at more than 170 Nautica company-owned stores worldwide, various department stores and other retail establishments in countries around the world, and online at www.nautica.com, www.zappos.com, www.macys.com, and other online stores.